The Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC), owner and administrator of the GMAT, has cancelled the scores of more than 100 individuals who benefited from a GMAT online exam cheat ring backed by Russian hackers that took money from candidates in exchange for sitting the test for them.
The decision was made possible by advanced forensics and proprietary security tools that provided overwhelming evidence that the candidates were guilty of serious policy violations, which include proxy test taking—someone else taking the test on the candidate’s behalf.
The GMAT test takers not only had their recent scores cancelled but were also banned from any future test taking with GMAC. Any previous exam scores were also cancelled and schools to which GMAT test scores had been sent by the guilty candidates were notified.
In a statement, GMAC announced it is also cooperating with local law enforcement authorities in India who are investigating the matter. The investigation is reportedly ongoing after the Intelligence Fusion and Strategic Operations unit of the New Delhi police made six arrests in relation to the cheat ring, according to The Times of India.
Among them is the main accused, 33-year-old Raj Teotia, a resident of Palwal, Haryana who, according to deputy commissioner of police (DCP), K.P.S. Malhotra, already has four cases against him and was wanted by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI). There was reportedly a cash reward of more than $1,200 for his arrest.
The members of the online syndicate were reportedly able to get their clients a GMAT test score of 780 out of the maximum 800. In a scheme that continued for about two years, candidates paid vast sums of money in exchange for a high GMAT test score. According to the police, the amounts paid ranged from nearly $4,000 to close to $20,000 in some instances.
The risk to GMAT test security has increased since the exam went online
The GMAT exam is relied on by more than 7,000 programs across the globe and hundreds of thousands of test takers each year. It’s also the favored exam among business school admission teams.
The GMAT consists of four sections, including integrated reasoning, verbal reasoning, quantitative reasoning, and an analytical writing assessment.
According to the GMAC statement, “fortunately the number of bad actors—people who attempt to circumvent the security of standardized tests whether for monetary gain or in the belief that cheating will help them—is very small; however, we are ever-vigilant when it comes to detecting and deterring this activity.”
The online syndicate reportedly operated with the help of Russian hackers who, according to a police official, helped them gain access to various examination portals. According to DCP Malhotra the main accused, Raj, ‘was in touch with Russian hackers and also visited Russia in 2018 while Russian hackers stayed at his place during lockdown.’
The GMAT test cheat ring downloaded disguised remote access software not detectable by safety measures and Proctor. An official also said the accused had a tool specifically developed to access the online examination system, now widespread since the GMAT test became permanently available online.
“Online testing has allowed the testing community to enhance access to their exams and has been a benefit to many candidates, especially during the Covid pandemic when test centers were shut down or had very limited capacity,” the GMAC statement says.
“Unfortunately, as with any new technology, this delivery format also creates an opportunity for malicious actors who attempt to game the system.”
The future of GMAT test security
Moving forward, the graduate management education nonprofit said it will leverage new information and technology to look back at past GMAT exams and act on cheating if warranted.
That may include cancelling scores, prohibiting test takers from taking GMAC exams in the future, and informing business schools across the world about the actions of said candidates and encouraging them to take strong action.
“Often, these services purporting to help candidates achieve higher scores are scams designed to cheat candidates out of their money,” the statement explains. “We encourage candidates to not be fooled—engaging in these types of activities can result in them being the target of extortion.
“In addition, candidates face the very real and serious consequences of cheating, including criminal prosecution by law-and-order authorities, who are now aware of and actively working to address this issue.”